The Biotech Battlefield


Dov Fox


Advances in medicine and technology stand poised to transform the way that humans relate to each other and to nature, even our own. Regimes like China are already enlisting the life sciences to implement troubling programs of biometric surveillance and population control. The bioethics wars are here. America isn’t ready. Democracies are equipped to deliberate on the ethics of cutting-edge approaches to public health, climate change, and biodiversity. But for the first time since 1974, the country lacks even a national authority to guide citizens and policymakers on the moral and social implications of interventions like genetically editing mosquitos to combat disease, or babies for COVID-19 immunity. Hard debates about values and consequences that spill over across borders -- that's precisely where autocracies often fall short. The United States must lead on bioethics abroad by shoring up the institutions that govern experimental research and clinical practice. Now is the time for bold measures to confront the controversies of our time.


artificial intelligence; biometric surveillance; discrimination; family planning; informed consent; privacy; techno-autocracy; techno-democracy

Document Type




Publication Title

Foreign Affairs (online)

Publication Info

Foreign Affairs, April 25, 2022